Monday, March 14, 2011

Oh Yeah, Here's What We're Looking For in a Government

This is real, real smart.
WASHINGTON -- A spending plan being pushed by Republicans would slash funding for the agency that warned the West Coast about the devastating tsunami in Japan.

The plan, approved by the GOP-controlled House last month, would trigger an estimated $126 million in cuts for the National Weather Service, the agency that houses the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii. The center issued widespread warnings minutes after Friday's earthquake and issued guidance and updates throughout the day.

A union representing workers at the tsunami center said the proposed cuts - part of $454 million in cuts for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - could result in furloughs and rolling closures of weather service offices. If so, that could affect the center's ability to issue warnings similar to those issued Friday, said Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

"People could die. It could be serious," HIrshorn said.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, called the GOP cuts reckless and even dangerous.

"This disaster displays the need to keep the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center fully funded and operational," said Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "I hope my Republican colleagues in the House are now aware that there was a horrific earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific."

GOP budget targets agency that warned of tsunami

I can't see anything at all wrong with this plan, can you? It's a much better idea for balancing the budget than getting another couple of percent in taxes from the one percent of Americans who hold fifty percent of country's wealth, I'm sure you agree.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A union representing workers at the tsunami center said the proposed cuts - part of $454 million in cuts for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - could result in furloughs and rolling closures of weather service offices. If so, that could affect the center's ability to issue warnings similar to those issued Friday, said Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

"People could die. It could be serious," HIrshorn said."

the head of the union of a group of workers say if you cut their budget for their workers, all hell will break loose

and to substantiate his claim, he makes a statement with four "could"s

I feel like we need a second opinion

""This disaster displays the need to keep the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center fully funded and operational," said Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "I hope my Republican colleagues in the House are now aware that there was a horrific earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific.""

they are aware of that and they could have had someone inform them of that for less than $126 million

"I can't see anything at all wrong with this plan, can you? It's a much better idea for balancing the budget than getting another couple of percent in taxes from the one percent of Americans who hold fifty percent of country's wealth, I'm sure you agree."

they are already paying for most of the government services you enjoy

why do you think their money belongs to you?

the truth is, eliminating the subsidies for PP and PBS would cover this many times over- if we actually need that much spent

March 14, 2011 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Another costly GOP mistake said...

"March 11, 2011

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) voted this week by a 3-2 margin to direct the House General Counsel to initiate a legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As you know, the Democratic members of the BLAG voted against directing the House Counsel to initiate the costly defense of a statute which many believe to be unconstitutional under the Equal Protection clause.

While respecting the role of the BLAG to make such decisions, I disagree in this circumstance because of the number of cases, at least 10. There are numerous parties who will continue to litigate these ongoing cases regardless of the involvement of the House. No institutional purpose is served by having the House of Representatives intervene in this litigation which will consume 18 months or longer. As we noted, the constitutionality of this statute will be determined by the Courts, regardless of whether the House chooses to intervene.

The resolution passed by the BLAG also directs the House General Counsel to hire private lawyers rather than utilize his own office to represent the House. The General Counsel indicated that he lacked the personnel and the budget to absorb those substantial litigation duties. It is important that the House receive an estimate of the cost to taxpayers for engaging private lawyers to intervene in the pending DOMA cases. It is also important that the House know whether the BLAG, the General Counsel, or a Committee of the House have the responsibility to monitor the actions of the outside lawyers and their fees.

The American people want Congress to be working on the creation of jobs and ensuring the continued progress of our economic recovery rather than involving itself unnecessarily in such costly and divisive litigation.

Thank you for your responses to these questions concerning the cost and oversight of the litigation as it proceeds through the courts.

best regards,


Democratic Leader"

We're not looking for the House to waste tax-payer money defending an unconstitutional law in court, either.

March 14, 2011 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When President Barack Obama signed health reform into law a year ago, Democrats hoped the public would learn to love it.

It hasn’t.

“If public opinion was going to shift, it would have shifted. It hasn’t moved a lot in a year,” said Robert Blendon, an expert on health care and public opinion at Harvard University.

In fact, the one notable change in recent months isn’t a good sign for Obama — 57 percent of independent voters had an unfavorable view of the law in January, up from 41 percent in December, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Unless that situation changes, the 2012 campaign could easily be one in which the Republican presidential candidates talk about the health care law more than Obama does — and so will the GOP challengers to the 23 Senate Democrats up for reelection.

March 14, 2011 10:55 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

It will be interesting to see the briefs filed by the House Counsel in the DOMA cases. If prominent conservation appellate specialist (and Assistant Attorney General in the Reagan Administration) Charles Cooper (who represented the Prop 8 proponents against Ted Olson and David Boies) couldn't make cogent effective legal arguments on the substance of the issues (the case was remanded on the side issue of the standing of the Prop 8 proponents), I find it hard to believe that whoever Speaker Boehner appoints will do any better.

On the broader point, Jim is absolutely correct. This is a classic example of ideology clouding common sense. The biggest challenges our society faces in the next decades are centered around the need to be competitive educationally, since our economic competitors are beating us; and to deal with the sorts of acute and chronic dangers caused by our environment (both those caused by human actions and those which are just part of the natural world). Yet the GOP approach, both nationally and in the states, is to severely cut or wipeout our ability to meet these challenges. It will really be sad if, in decades to come, historians accurately write that the United States declined as a prosperous and safe power due to its own self-inflicted wounds.

March 15, 2011 6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Attend the protest!

What: Protest Wisconsin Republicans in DC

When: Wednesday, March 16th -- 5pm

Where: 601 13th St., NW, Washington, DC 20005
Outside the BGR lobbyist offices in the Homer Bldg.

Why: On Wednesday March 16, the Wisconsin Republicans are coming to Washington, DC for a fundraiser.

After they gave big corporations $117 billion in tax breaks and then cut benefits and rights for working families, they're coming to town to cash big checks from their lobbyist buddies -- unbelievable!

March 15, 2011 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I have an idea to fix public education.

Start a voucher program where students unhappy in the public school can use their federal dollars towards any private school they would like. And kill teacher tenure in favor of merit based teacher pay.

Why don't we try that ?

I would bet that would drive costs down in public education immediately, and test scores up.

Only in a govt job can you stick around if you are not performing.
That needs to end.

March 15, 2011 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it would definitely drive down costs

in the District, the average cost per student in public school is multiple times the cost of vouchers that were given to a handful of kids, whose parents will probably not vote for Obama after he stole their shot at a better life by killing the program

March 15, 2011 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Equality Project is a New York charter school that pay its teachers $125,000 per year.

TEP was created by Zeke Vanderhoek, a Yale graduate and former middle school teacher with Teach For America. Prior to creating TEP, Zeke was the founder of ManhattanGMAT, a test preparation company headquartered in New York City. The New York State Education Department approved a five-year provisional charter for the school, which will expire on January 14, 2013. TEP will open with a single class of 120 fifth grade students, and 7 teachers. Each year, a new class of 120 fifth graders will be added, and 7 new teachers hired to teach the next grade level, until the school reaches full capacity of 480 students and 28 teachers in its fourth year of operation.

Teachers will earn a starting salary of $125,000, while the principal's salary starts at $90,000. In exchange for their higher-than-average salaries, teachers will work longer hours, and take on additional responsibilities. These responsibilities include leading an after-school activity for the school's "Extended-Day Program", and taking on a whole-school position (Disciplinary Dean, for example).

Unlike regular public school teachers, these teachers can be fired at will. To counter the teachers' high salaries, the school will not have any assistant principals, deans, or any other bureaucrats.[3]

Read more about it at

March 15, 2011 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let’s say that for every dollar you gave me, I gave you a crisp $10 bill in return. Good deal, right? Almost too good. But before you start to ask questions, I’ll remind you that this is my thought experiment. Perhaps I just love dollar bills. Or perhaps I just love you. At any rate, there are no strings attached, and you can take advantage of it more than once.

Now let’s say that you’re in debt and you need to get your finances in order. Do you start handing me more dollar bills? Or fewer?

If you’ve got any sense, you’ll give me more. Converting dollar bills into $10 bills is an excellent way to pay off your credit card. Except, it seems, if you’re a House Republican.

On March 1, House Republicans voted to cut $600 million from the budget of the Internal Revenue Service for the remainder of 2011, and they want even deeper cuts in 2012. Perhaps that doesn’t surprise you: Republicans don’t like spending — at least when they’re not in power — and they don’t like taxes. Why would they fund the IRS?

Well, as the Associated Press reported, “every dollar the Internal Revenue Service spends for audits, liens and seizing property from tax cheats brings in more than $10, a rate of return so good the Obama administration wants to boost the agency’s budget.” It’s an easy way to reduce the deficit: You don’t have to cut heating oil for the poor or Pell grants for students. You just have to make people pay what they owe.

But deficit reduction is not the GOP’s top priority. It’s a bit lower on the list, somewhere between “get Styrofoam cups back into Congress” — an actual push the Republicans took up to thumb their nose at Nancy Pelosi’s environmental policies — and make “Sesame Street” beg for money.

March 15, 2011 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sesame Street makes millions on their own if you haven't noticed, by itself it would be quite profitable.

why in the world do you feel it is necessary to fund NPR when there are literally hundreds and hundreds of outlets of information ?

hello, for every media matters there is a heritage foundation.

I think media matters is off it's rocker and you think fox lies.

whatever, we can all pick our poison, as it should be in a free country.

We don't need to be spending money subsidizing this.

and by the way, you could fire LOTS and LOTS of IRS agents (or just redirect them to spot checks) if you went to an overall VAT tax. Kill income tax, kill capital gains tax, add a national VAT tax and be done with the paper work and the loopholes. the problem is the potential cash side society you create. You know, I would love to have a debate on this subject. when my liberal neighbors who have since moved back to CA were over at christmas, we started this discussion. I believe one group was thiking income tax for W2 and VAT for business.... .

No takers ?

Jim, you keep posting that we are cutting taxes for millionaires. As I pointed out, but we aren't really.

March 15, 2011 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says the Obama Administration's "activism" in handling economic affairs is hampering what could otherwise be a robust recovery from the recent recession.

Greenspan, speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations Tuesday, argues that companies sitting on stockpiles of cash are unwilling to make long-term capital investments because of increased government regulation and hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus spending that have "crowded out" private investment opportunities. It's a situation he says closely models the trends during the Great Depression.

"There's very much [a] similar fear of what government will do," he said.

This hesitancy from corporate America, Greenspan claims, has kept unemployment rates at increased levels not seen in several decades and led to a "disappointingly tepid" economic recovery.

Greenspan's comments replicated the observations he made in a recent commentary for the journal "International Finance." He asserts that over past two years, lawmakers in Washington have been too keen-or active--in trying to legislate the economy.

"I conclude that the current government activism is hampering what should be a broad-based robust economic recovery, driven in significant part by the positive wealth effect of a buoyant U.S. and global stock market," Greenspan wrote.

The aversion by corporations--and households too--from making large long term capital investments hasn't been this sluggish since 1940, Greenspan says. He blames uncertainty over continued government interference for the apparent corporate intransigence.

"If you have to invest over a very long period of time--assets which are irredeemable, which means you have to make a very critical choice-- you have to have some confidence, in part, at least, that you will know what the structure will look like." Greenspan said Tuesday. He pointed to utility companies that are reluctant to spend money on major infrastructure projects when they can't project with certainty their carbon costs.

March 15, 2011 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And this is true, we are an upper income household and what am I doing ? Not redoing the kitchen, not paying anyone for anything I don't have to, why ?

because we have an incompetent in the white house and I am scared to death of what he might do next.

March 15, 2011 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and the NPR sesame street lie worked on me years ago when I was 30 (oh no, they can't cut NPR what about Sesame Street...). I was 30 with little kids and pretty gullible. that was 15-20 years ago.

I don't believe that lie will work as well these days with the alternative media.

Sorry, nice try.

March 15, 2011 10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Republican plan is to extend the budget every couple of weeks for six billion a pop

by the end of the year, they will have saved grateful Americans a chunk of money

as a matter of fact, we can keep this up until November 2012 when Americans have an opportunity to do what they are dying to do:

send Barry back to Chicago

he can take PBS, PP and the Dept of Energy with him

"The House Tuesday passed a measure blending $6 billion in budget cuts with enough money to keep the government running for an additional three weeks.

The measure would buy additional time for talks between Capitol Hill Republicans and the Obama administration on a bill to fund the day-to-day operations of the government through the end of September. Those negotiations haven't gotten very far yet and House GOP leaders haven't shown much flexibility.

The measure passed by a 271-158 vote despite opposition from some tea party-backed conservatives who said it "kicks the can down the road" instead of imposing steep and immediate spending cuts.

"It's a small down payment on our commitment to the American people that we'd have real fiscal responsibility," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The measure moves to the Senate, which is likely to clear it for Obama's desk later this week.

Prospects for agreement on a longer-term measure remain uncertain, however, as Republicans dominating the House are insistent on a measure mixing steep spending cuts with numerous policy provisions, including a ban on federal funding for Planned Parenthood and to strike money to bankroll implementation of President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Those provisions, as well as language to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating emissions thought to contribute to global warming. Democrats are showing signs of that they haven't realized that the Republicans will either get what they want now or "one-piece-at-a-time."

March 15, 2011 10:58 PM  
Anonymous GOP family values demonstration said...

Wisconsin State Sen. Randy Hopper, a close Republican ally of Gov. Scott Walker, is among the eight senators that activists will try to recall for supporting the infamous "budget repair bill" to weaken public sector unions. So this weekend, some protesters marched to his house — yikes! — to have a chat. But his wife answered the door and told the protesters that Hopper lives with his 25-year-old girlfriend now, and a divorce is underway.

Not surprisingly, his wife said she would join Team Recall and sign the petition.

March 16, 2011 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And let's all be sure to thank Alan Greenspan for all his efforts as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987-2006. Maybe we can get him to tell us why he resigned in 2006 just before the bottom blew out of the market bubbles he allowed to be created.

Market Bubbles
Social Security
Housing Bubble
Late 2000 recession
Political views and alleged politicization of office
"Greenspan describes himself as a "lifelong libertarian Republican"."

No wonder hightailed it out of town in 2006, before the spit hit the fan. He should stay out of town, he's reeked enough havoc already.

March 16, 2011 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recall targeting WI GOP Senators secures nearly half of required signatures

March 16, 2011 9:44 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

I’m going out on a limb here and guessing this was Theresa:

“And this is true, we are an upper income household and what am I doing ? Not redoing the kitchen, not paying anyone for anything I don't have to, why ?”

Oh please, you just got the US tax payer to subsidize $11,000 in a new solar cell system for your house so you could reduce your electricity bill. You’re well on the way to living like the REALLY rich in this country, who have twisted the tax code to their own advantage so that working stiffs like us pay a higher percentage of our income in taxes than they do. Find a few more tax breaks like this and you’ll be well on your way to multi-millionaire status in no time.

“because we have an incompetent in the white house and I am scared to death of what he might do next.”

Does this mean you’ve given up being scared about drag queens in the ladies’ rooms? Or is this a new scare piled on top of the old one? That much anxiety isn’t good over the long term. You may want to try some valium.

As for the post about conservative wunderkind Alan Greenspan, while there were a confluence of reasons from multiple directions that caused the housing bubble, if you had to pick one person as being the “most responsible” for it, it would have to him. He and Hank Paulson were the ones that convinced Clinton not to increase regulations on hedge funds after the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management L.P., saying that it would “stifle growth and innovation.” Meanwhile there was a woman (I forget her name at the moment, but I believe she worked for the SEC) that tried to convince Clinton that if she wasn’t allowed to regulate hedge funds, other security firms would do the same thing and they would ultimately collapse, perhaps with even worse consequences than LTCM. Obviously she was prescient. Unfortunately Clinton listened to Paulson and Greenspan.

Greenspan also held his hand on the interest rate lever for years, pushing the rate lower anytime the economy got a little “slow” to give things a little boost. Never asking himself why he had to keep doing this even after rates were at historically low levels, and investors and families were buying houses on “liar loans” that weren’t scrutinized until after Bush left office. By that time though, the bubble had burst, and Paulson had to socialize our national banking system to keep it from collapsing.

If Greenspan ever gives us monetary or fiscal policy advice again, it would be best to do the exact opposite.

Have a nice day.


March 16, 2011 10:51 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Per the Greenspan quotes, this reinforces the conclusion that a big chunk of our economic problems -- stagnant employment and the resulting loss of income and tax revenues (both federal and state & local) -- us due to the fact that Capital is on strike.

To the extent that Capital is on strike because of uncertainty regarding how the federal government will tax and regulate, that uncertainty is caused by those who would keep taxes down and cut back regulation -- the very politicians who are funded by Capital.

So Capital creates the uncertainty it says it is paralyzing it, so it can get a better, pre-New Deal deal from federal and state & local government.

Am I oversimplifying? Maybe, but I don't think so.

March 16, 2011 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, Cynthia, yes that was Theresa.

And yes we put in solar panels. why not ? If the govt is going to pay for it, and you essentially get a guaranteed 15% return on your investment, why not ?

I think it is crazy for the govt to be spending money that way. But, right now, I am completely focused on getting my kids through college, so if it makes fiscal sense do it.

I would rather put 10K towards solar panels than hand 10K to the govt.

There are simply NOT that many tax breaks for folks on W2 income, which was my other conversation with Bea. The REALLY rich don't earn W2 income for the most part. If I remember right Cynthia you are single with no kids, one car, no educational expenses for kids, no teenage boys to feed. I would imagine you have FAR more expendable income on a single engineers salary than I have on essentially two professional salaries after paying for 3 kids. My choice, but the point is the govt is already taking 1/2 of the income for dual working folks on W2, and far far less for folks with other types of income. 1/2 of ones income is enough, too much ! And small businesses can get away with bloody murder. Everything can be provided by your small business for your principals as a business expense, thus you end up paying very little in taxes.

the tax code needs to be revamped entirely. The only thing I hear on this blog is "oh the rich will find another tax break" what you don't seem to get is that the overall tax rate hike won't hit the really rich, they are just going to find more loopholes.

so are you after the really rich, or are you after the dual income working families ? I would think really rich should be paying their fair share. And we have multi-millionaies (NOT ME, we are certainly not) getting stimulus checks because they have declared less than 80K in earned income... you are AREN't going to fix that by raising the rates. You fix that by eliminating the loopholes and throwing the whole tax code out and starting over....

do I know what can be done ? yes. Can you manage it on simple W2 without doing something like investing in some partnership that is failing on paper ? no, not really.

I even investigated trying to get my company to pay me as a contractor because the difference between incorporated and straight W2 is so stark. Couldn't do it. Do I know professionals that have quit companies on W2 income and gone back to work as subcontractors for those same companies but as partnerships or S corporations so they don't get W2s ? yes. Happens all time.

You don't fix this by raising the tax rates. You fix this by throwing the tax code out and starting over.

So Cynthia, your ire is directed at the wrong place.

And on the other subject, until MD decides on a consistent rule of law, and the court of appeals is not one that dynamically redefines law ON THE FLY based on whether they like the contents of the law being challenged, MD HAS NO RULE OF LAW. Any court that makes one decision on one referendum regarding signatures, and then redefines that same decision without publicizing why they decided to change their mind on a different referendum is quite simply LAWLESS.

They have blatantly and outrageously tromped all over any form of lawful government. And regardless of which way you feel on the issue, any fair minded person can't possibly look at what happened and say it was fair or lawful in ANY sense of the word.

You either accept signatures according to one set of rules or the other set of rules. You don't decide that the rules are AFTER the fact based on whether you like the referendum or not. the MD court should be ASHAMED of themselves.

March 16, 2011 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And David, in my case Capital is on strike because I have one kid college and two on her heels.

So capital will be on strike (or gobbled up by college fees) for years and years and years to come.

March 16, 2011 10:46 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


It would be nice if we could find common ground with respect to finding ways to have those who benefit the most from our free society and form of governance pay their fair share to support that free society and form of governance that is necessary for them to do so well.

Good luck with those college expenses.

March 17, 2011 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"those who benefit the most from our free society and form of governance pay their fair share to support that free society"

everyone has the same opportunity to benefit from our free society

hence, everyone should pay the same amount unless you are seriously destitute

the wealthy pay an unfair share already

why should they have to pay more for the same services?

should we start having merchants jack up their prices on wealthy clients and lowering them for lower income individuals?


btw, it really takes a lot of chutzpah for liberal agenda advocates to push through eco-friendly tax credits to manipulate behavior and then complain if the middle class uses them


March 17, 2011 7:45 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Who complains when members of the middle class avail themselves of tax advantages designed to encourage societally useful activities? An example, please.

March 17, 2011 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cynco does.

Here's the example:

"Oh please, you just got the US tax payer to subsidize $11,000 in a new solar cell system for your house so you could reduce your electricity bill. You’re well on the way to living like the REALLY rich in this country, who have twisted the tax code to their own advantage so that working stiffs like us pay a higher percentage of our income in taxes than they do. Find a few more tax breaks like this and you’ll be well on your way to multi-millionaire status in no time."

March 17, 2011 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like voters in the midwest, especially where the GOP surged to monolithic control of the state legislature and governor's mansion in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan, are having serious second thoughts about what they have done.

Ohioans Having Incredible Buyers' Remorse over Kasich

Rasmussen poll has Governor Scott Walker's disapproval rating near 60%

New Polling – Democrats Lead in Three Potential Recall Elections in Wisconsin

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder losing luster among voters in latest poll

Snyder tax break for business: 60%

Michigan Gov. Snyder Booed At Ford Plant

March 18, 2011 9:40 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Anon noted:

“btw, it really takes a lot of chutzpah for liberal agenda advocates to push through eco-friendly tax credits to manipulate behavior and then complain if the middle class uses them”

Again, you didn’t get it quite right Anon. I congratulated Theresa on using the tax code to further her hunt for wealth. What I was complaining about was her prolific bitching about how much she has to pay in taxes because of how much she earns. Her whining is so persistent you can tell it’s her even when she posts as “Anonymous.”

Exhibit A:

“And this is true, we are an upper income household and what am I doing ? Not redoing the kitchen, not paying anyone for anything I don't have to, why ?”

Anyone who has read even a few serious wealth-building texts knows that frugality goes part and parcel with taking full advantage of the tax code in this country. One of my favorite anecdotes from one of these books is the one where a business man comes home from work and plops down $8 million worth of stock in a company he bought to give to his wife for his birthday. She barely looked up from the table to say “that’s nice dear, thank you” before getting back to cutting out grocery coupons.

She’s not the only person here who makes a good income and pays an exorbitant amount of taxes. So she’s remodeling her kitchen herself to save some money. Great. I’ve done a lot of that myself, and saved THOUSANDS of dollars not only in remodeling but appliance repairs by doing most of it myself. Some would say my “frugality” goes well into the “cheap” category.

Here’s my latest kitchen remodeling story – my current dishwasher came from one of my neighbors when they were remodeling their kitchen. They left their old stove and dishwasher at the end of their driveway with “FREE” signs on them. I noticed them the first day they were out because of my morning walk. Someone took the stove during the first day or two. The dishwasher remained, but I didn’t have a way to get it to my house. So I left a note taped to their mailbox saying I’d be happy to take it, but I had yet to find someone with a truck to move it for me. When I got home that evening, it was waiting at the end of my walkway. I installed it myself that weekend. It occasionally makes some loud noises, but it works better than the on it replaced. That was also a free one from a co-worker who had remodeled, but it had stopped working, and I couldn’t get a key piece off to try and fix.

I have dozens of money saving stories like that one, but I’ll spare you.

March 18, 2011 10:29 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

And no Theresa, I do not have children. That does not mean I don’t have education expenses though. I have paid for all 4 years of my nephew’s education at a top ranked Catholic high school in another state, and I look forward to seeing him graduate this spring. Although I had to hold my nose every time I wrote a check to a Catholic institution, I know the value of a good education, and he is a smart kid that wasn’t being challenged enough at the small country public schools he was going to. I also believe he has enough common sense not to be brainwashed by Catholic dogma, especially as it pertains to LGBT people. I think it will be hard to swallow the ideas the church tries to tell him about our community while he knows he simply wouldn’t be there at all if it wasn’t for his Aunty Cyn - who just happens to be a transsexual.

Unfortunately, since he is not my child, I can not deduct his tuition from my taxes, despite scouring dozens of IRS documents trying to find a way. I find it ironic though, that the cash and new children’s clothes I donate to one of the local high-needs schools IS deductable, even though I’ve never met the kids. I can’t get a similar break for helping out my family though.

And yes Theresa, I realize it’s only one child, and not three. But we asked my nephew’s brother and his cousin if they wanted to go to the same school, and they declined. That was their choice. I would have footed the bill for them too. So far, my nephew hasn’t asked me for college money yet (he’s been accepted at a southern university). I’m hoping his parent’s financial situation will mean he gets a lot of student aid. But I’m also holding my breath.

Have a nice day,


March 18, 2011 10:30 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Engraved on the Department of Commerce building downtown are the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes to this effect: "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society."

By Montgomery County standards, our family income is quite middle class. And I, for one, think we do get what we pay for. I would feel overtaxed if I did not think we needed a national defense, local police and fire protection, public roads, public schools, common public space (like parks), regulatory agencies to make sure that our productive free enterprise system does not run off the tracks (as it did in the late 1920s and early 1930s, leading to disastrous results), the Weather Service, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. We can debate about whether the money is spent wisely. But, given what we do communally to make for a safe, free, and good society, I do not at all feel oppressed by taxation.

March 18, 2011 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Cynthia's story about the grocery coupons, it is very funny.

Frugal and cheap is also a word I use to describe myself.

I can't deduct any of my kids colleges expenses federally either(even though they are my kids) either. The only thing I have been able to do is invest tax free via the 529 and I can get a deduction on MD taxes. Actually I think Cynthia might also be able to do this.

I have two issues with the tax code. One, I believe is incredibly unfair to working families. From what I see done and know can be done there are so many loopholes that the very rich (again, not me) can take advantage of those loopholes to pay a lower effective tax rate than the middle class. Secretarys and fire fighters pay a higher percentage than CEOs. That's ridiculous. Second, if the majority of your income is on W2s (earned income) and you are not a CEO you percentage of income confiscated by the federal govt can easily reach 50%. That is too much.

So yes, as Cynthia points out, I do feel overtaxed and I do feel that the code should be entirely revamped.


March 18, 2011 12:49 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


I agree that the rich do not pay their fair share.

What did you think of the Republican insistence last December that the Bush 2001 tax cuts for the wealthiest among us be continued as a price for keeping the tax cuts for the rest of us?

March 18, 2011 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it was a rare moment of common sense in government

March 18, 2011 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all the Bush Tax cuts were for everyone, and as opposed to a measley 3% at the top levels they went from 10 to 15% at the bottom levels, percentage wise that is 10% as opposed to 50%.

So they were far more directed at the middle class than they were at the "rich".

The tax bracket the debate was over starts at 208,000 of income. Had they not extended them, it was going to cost my family close to 20,000 in a combined increases. My husband and I had already decided in that case we were going to get divorced on paper. 20K is a kids college tuition. And I don't have an extra 20K to give the federal govt given that I already give them 1/2 of every dollar I earn.

So "cuts for the wealthiest among us" is a pretty broad brush, you hit folks like me where you have two people working and filing jointly, and you DON"T hit the really rich who have incorporated, as using all the loopholes, and don't pay anything close to the percentage I pay already.

By the way, my numbers are not unique, I had another good friend whose husband and she were having the same debate on getting divorced (also with college age kids) and another friend (my teacher friend) who was going to put off getting married.

If you had not extended those tax cuts, you hit many many dual income working families.... the Bush tax cuts included somewhat of a fix for the marriage penalty, do you think it is fair to add a marriage penalty that is SO severe that you convince folks who are married to get divorced ? I mean seriously, do you believe a tax code that costs a husband and wife 20K for the privilege of being married is a good tax code ? Because if you didn't extend the cuts for the upper brackets, those are the numbers.

Inherently the tax code the way it is designed is flawed. Incredibly flawed. Depreciation schedules, partnerships, Subchapter S corporations... the whole code needs to be thrown out.

I am already paying 1/2 when I add it all together and THAT IS ENOUGH.

Meanwhile, I know folks that make far more income than I do, but because they own their own business pay practically nothing. Everything becomes a business expense, no income left to tax.

So what you and I would pay for out of post tax money, ie a kids cell phone, they pay with no tax money.

That needs to be fixed.

Putting more taxes on the back of W2 income filers, which is exactly the only people that you would hit, may have the opposite effect of what you are looking for...

When taxes get so oppressive, people do more to not pay them. In my case, had Dale and I gotten divorced because they didn't extend the Bush tax cuts, it would have saved me an extra 7K a year off my current tax bill. So if they had passed them I would have made sure to pay less. I am sure that you are familar David that when you raise the rate, in a lot of cases the total tax revenue collected goes down.

That said, I will again emphasize that the entire tax code is incredibly flawed. Have you looked at the fair tax ? Ie, chuck the whole income tax structure and go to a national VAT tax, essentially. Than everyone pays.

Give the lower income folks a credit back since it would clearly hit them harder, but bye bye tax evasion schemes. You spend money you pay....

March 18, 2011 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I am going to differ with you David, the some of the rich pay more than their fair share and lots of the "super rich" pay hardly anything at all. And the funny thing is, you probably arent' even catching those folks in your statistics and reports because they simply aren't reporting a whole lot of taxable income.

March 18, 2011 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

"I know folks that make far more income than I do, but because they own their own business pay practically nothing. Everything becomes a business expense, no income left to tax."

I find it odd that the very people who complain the loudest that the tax system "isn't fair" are the very people who vote for the GOP. After all, it's the GOP who thinks businesses should NOT be taxed on their own income like individuals are. And further, it's the GOP who thinks businesses but not individuals have the right to make unlimited undisclosed political contributions to their GOP tax reducers.

The Bush personal tax cuts and business incentives have been in effect since 2001 and 2003. What most people don't know is that the $136 billion Bush business tax cuts have been in effect since 2004. Most people don't know it because Bush provided "no fanfare....[and] no ceremony for the bill-signing" in contrast to the other times Bush signed tax cuts with fanfare and ceremony. Why did he feel the need to hide these "$136 billion Bush business tax cuts" from the public? And where, pray tell, are the many good jobs all of these Bush tax cuts were supposed to create?

Here's information The Hill published last week about a current 2011 tax proposal and its popularity:

"A group of House Democrats is pressing for legislation that would raise taxes on those pulling in at least seven figures.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and other liberal Democrats argued at a Wednesday news conference that their approach would be a more equitable way to reduce deficits than cutting spending in areas like Pell grants and community health centers.

“This is to inject a different perspective, a different take on the same issues,” Schakowsky said. “How are we going to handle our economy, but do it in a fair way?”

The Fairness in Taxation Act would install incrementally higher tax rates for income over $1 million. Income between $1 million and $10 million would be taxed at 45 percent, and the highest rate, 49 percent, would hit income at $1 billion and above. For those making more than $1 million, the measure would also tax dividend income and capital gains as ordinary income.

The current top bracket starts at roughly $373,000, and the current top rate is 35 percent. Citizens for Tax Justice, which has endorsed the tax proposal, estimates that it would raise roughly $79 billion in revenue.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have long stressed that they believe Washington has less of a revenue problem than a spending problem. At a separate Wednesday event, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reiterated his belief that higher taxes stand in the way of job creation.

“As someone who understands what uncertainty does to small employers, obviously, more regulations, higher taxes creates more uncertainty,” said Boehner.

But Schakowsky declared that the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy is popular, citing a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that found 81 percent of adults thought it was totally or mostly acceptable to place a surtax on people over $1 million a year..."

I also agree "the rich do not pay their fair share." I hope some day you'll join us to advocate in favor of tax increases on 7, 8, 9, and 10 figure incomes, virtually none of which are attained by W-2 wage earners.

March 19, 2011 3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a myth that high earners don't pay any tax

most of the tax revenue collected is from this source

one thing I think you guys are confused about is when you say people who own businesses don't pay tax

in general, the wealthiest, who own shares of corporations are taxed when the corporations earn the money and again when it is distributed to them, resulting in a higher than average tax rate

March 19, 2011 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"corporations are taxed when the corporations earn the money"

Are they, or do we give corporations big tax write offs???

"As you work on your taxes this month, here's something to raise your hackles: Some of the world's biggest, most profitable corporations enjoy a far lower tax rate than you do--that is, if they pay taxes at all.

The most egregious example is General Electric. Last year the conglomerate generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion.

Avoiding taxes is nothing new for General Electric. In 2008 its effective tax rate was 5.3%; in 2007 it was 15%. The marginal U.S. corporate rate is 35%."

March 21, 2011 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why should GE pay any tax?

it pays out its money to its shareholders, who then pay tax on it

that's where most of the money that pays for our society comes from

March 21, 2011 9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to disagree Anon, and take a more TTF approach on this one (actually I don't know if it is a TTF approach).

What I do know from what I have seen of the tax code from doing my own taxes for years is that corporations have tons of write offs that private citizens (wage earners) don't get to take advantage of....

ie, cell phone bills, company cars, etc, etc.

with the CEOS and executives those numbers get extreme. And I will differentiate this from dividend income...

deferred compensation packages, the ability to put up to 40K a year in 401K plans, etc.

There are some pretty nice perks if you are a company owner or even just pretending to run a company.

There is no way for the IRS to keep up with the fraud (think about every mom and pop shop you have ever visited). You just can't. How does the IRS tell if mom and dad are really paying kids to work at the office or just saying they are paying kids to work at the office .... how do they tell if the utility bill is overstated, how do they tell if the depreciation is overstated, if the value of the assests (sp) are overstated... it would require audits of every single corporation in the US and an army of accountants...

plus most of the stuff the corporations are doing is LEGAL.

whereas folks like me are limited to cleaning out attics full of stuff that we never had time to sort through before when the kids were little (and that for tax reasons I am forced to find time to sort through NOW, because if I do this 10 years from now when my income is down the write off isn't worth as much)....

corporations can do lots and lots and lots. and that's just me talking from the limited exposure I have had to schedule Ks and schedule c's....

Schedule K's because my husbands IRA manager keeps investing money in a couple little ones per year (over my objections because the tax forms are a PAIN) but it brought me to the realization that this is a quick way to get a tax write off on a paper loss without actually losing any money....

I am not going to google the numbers right now, but I can tell you that corporations used to pay a MUCH higher percentage of taxes as percentage of the overall US tax revenues than they do these days.

You don't fix this by upping the rate ! the fraud will just increase. And you don't fix this by taxing corporations on their total revenues, because then you punish corporations that are truly struggling and just have a higher cost of goods. And if you start taxing on the top line (gross) rather than the bottom line (net) you really kill job hiring... (which of course, comes off before taxes are paid). I think, because there is so much fraud inherent in corporate taxes, you fix this by charging corporations on some sort of a VAT tax. Ie, they pay a flat tax on everything they purchase for their operating expenses, period, if they are filing as a corporation, they have to pay this tax. I don't know how you charge corporations on a VAT tax and keep personal income taxes on an income tax realistically, thus you have to switch everyone.

My two cents. Very curious what David thinks.


March 21, 2011 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and what Bea thinks. Sorry didn't mean to leave you out.

March 21, 2011 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote a rather long post on the difference between the way corporations post income and pay tax, the deductions they have available and what typical private earners have available. I obviously should have saved it somewhere because it seems to have been gobbled by the ether. If you have a copy can you please repost ? If you don't I guess I will recompose.

Please let me know.

March 21, 2011 11:41 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


A healthy discussion about the most efficacious way to have a fairer tax systems is long overdue. I have heard some interesting discussions regarding the VAT, and ways that it could be made, in the context of a broader set of changes, progressive rather than regressive.

What scares a lot of people is the fear that if we go down that road, the big moneyed interests -- who have the money to hire loads of lobbyists and now, particularly in light of the Citizens United decision, can contribute unlimited amounts to support their favored candidates -- will tip those changes in their favor, as well. Thus, anything favored by the Club for Growth, for example, should be seen by people like you and me with a very jaundiced eye.

If we can ever get passed various social issues, there is a coalition out that to work for real tax reform that would benefit every-day people instead of simply helping the rich get richer.

March 22, 2011 9:35 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Theresa noted:

“There are some pretty nice perks if you are a company owner or even just pretending to run a company.”

Indeed. In very simplistic terms, corporations get to deduct all of their expenses (cars, phones, office supplies, training, rent, etc.) and then pay taxes on anything that might be left over. Individual employees pay their taxes first, and then buy their car, phones, pay for their rent, and everything else. It’s good to be a corporation. How do you think those broke auto companies paid for the private jets to get them to Washington to beg for bailout money? They were a tax right-off.

Again from Theresa:

“That said, I will again emphasize that the entire tax code is incredibly flawed. Have you looked at the fair tax ? Ie, chuck the whole income tax structure and go to a national VAT tax, essentially. Than everyone pays.”

Eliminating the income tax and going to a VAT tax is a great idea, especially for folks like me. My tax burden would drop precipitously as I only buy new things when I really need them.

A VAT tax or other real tax reform is never going to happen though. As my step father always pointed out, “we have the best politicians money can buy.”

Any tax system that was more “fair” as you put it, by necessity is going to shift more of the tax burden to corporations, a tectonic shift that goes against everything the business community has been buying off our politicians for over the last 30 years.

If Obama were to propose tax changes to help families at the expense of corporations, you can bet John Boehner will have a podium and a news conference set up within 30 seconds to announce his refusal to a allow a vote for the “job-killing corporate tax bill.”

It’s going to sound a lot like his argument for extending the Bush tax cuts:

“On the issue of job-killing tax hikes the American people are not going to accept anything less than the vote they deserve," Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday.

"Anything less than that is unacceptable," he said.”


Theresa likes to point out that raising taxes on people like her isn’t going to fix our deficit problem. True. But cutting them only makes it worse.

Our politicians on both sides of the aisle have given up all pretense of fiscal responsibility and are haggling over some 14% of the budget, including a pittance for PBS and NPR. Even if both of those are eliminated, our deficit will still grow by leaps and bounds, and even cutting out the 100 million conservatives are claiming “Obamacare” is going to cost them isn’t going to help.

Our current deficit is mainly due to building up and using the largest military system the planet has ever seen. No one is seriously talking about reducing it by the huge percentage that would be needed to get our budget back into balance. As such, we are heading headlong into another financial crisis. Congress and the Whitehouse are kicking the can down the road even further hoping someone else well take the political heat for making the tough decisions that have to be made. This inevitably means that the problem will be even bigger and harder to pay for than it is now.

If you don’t already have lots of bullion (I’m taking the metal kind, not the soup flavoring) it’s probably too late to start buying it now… but maybe not. Having some silver and gold around when the dollar becomes worthless is better than having none.

Have a nice day,


March 23, 2011 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

everyone doesn't have a fair and equal chance to benefit from our society - the advantages conferred by birth and the education level of one's parents are the primary markers of how well one will do in life. explain to me what strategy will allow someone born to a single mother making minimum wage with no benefits to equalize their disadvantages against a person who is born to two parents with advanced degrees and six figure salaries? obviously equality of opportunity is just a fiction. saying that everybody has an equal chance to succeed in America is like saying we have the right to levitate.

the whole "everybody has an equal chance" is obviously false. i couldn't argue that "everybody has an equal chance" to win in a poker game if some of the players have three cards and few chips and the others have full five cards and more chips. yet that is how America works.

whoever posted that everybody has an equal right would be arguing that a little league team versus a major league team is a fair game since the "same rules" apply to both.

opportunity depends on whether or not you are born rich or can find some benevolent rich person to give you a job.

and i think it would be fair for merchants to charge rich people more. why should a poor person have to spend say, 50% of their income on food and housing but a wealthy person COULD get by on a much smaller percentage?

March 31, 2011 1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think it is quite fair to charge rich people more in taxes. they are the ones who decide what level of opportunity will exist for the rest of us, so we are really at their mercy.

March 31, 2011 1:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody said everybody has an equal chance. But in America everybody should have a chance.

March 31, 2011 6:36 AM  

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